Private sector growth accelerated at end of 2015
Growth in the Northern Ireland private sector accelerated at the end of 2015, with retail and service firms hiring more staff, according to Ulster Bank.
The bank's Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) is a monthly survey of firms' activities.
It tracks new orders, employment and exports.
The PMI suggests that over the last six months of the year, retail and construction experienced a significant improvement in performance
Meanwhile, manufacturing showed a notably weaker growth rate in the second half of the year.
The bank's chief economist in Northern Ireland, Richard Ramsey, said the private sector "ended 2015 in better shape than it began it".
However, he pointed to differences between sectors, with some evidence that the manufacturing sector was shedding jobs in December.
Mr Ramsey said this trend is expected to continue "given the large scale redundancy announcements made last year".
Looking at the service sector he said increasing input cost inflation suggests some workers are getting pay rises.
He also emphasised that much of the improvement in the construction sector is still largely linked to activity in Great Britain.